The other day, I was at a networking event and listened to a presentation by the principal of Healthassist, Dianne Savastano. While the focus was directed toward the care for aging parents, she also shared her development of the greatest healthcare tool and empowerment device – a 3-ring binder. Yes, it was that simple. She discovered that knowledge is power and by keeping all of her records in one binder, she could keep clear about what was happening. I loved this idea so much that I am working on one for myself and each of my kids, and I’m going to work on them for my parents too.
Here’s how it works. Starting by asking her doctor for copies of all of her medical records, prescriptions, diagnostic tests and notes from his follow-up dictations, Dianne created sections in the binder for each category and updated these records after each visit. Bringing along the binder when she saw her doctor or a specialist, meant she could double check her information, looking for progress or making sure there were no allergies or conditions that might affect future treatment. She also prepares for each appointment by creating an agenda and snapping it in to the front of the book. Her agenda reminds her to ask important questions, discuss changes and review the discussion from the last visit.
Having this information at your fingertips lets your physician know you are in control. Make one for yourself, your parents, your children or anyone whose health is your priority. Granted each one will be a little bit different, the result is a more prepared patient, better communication between patient and doctor and ultimately a healthier you!
Below is the suggested list of sections for the binder:
Front page: AGENDA
Tab 1: HISTORY. After each visit, the office can send you copies of the dictation or notes, taken during the appointment. Each of these should be filed chronologically in your binder.
Tab 2: MEDICATIONS. A list of every medication, prescription and over-the-counter, along with whom it was prescribed by, when, what for and the dosage.
Tab 3: DIAGNOSTIC TESTING. Chronologically filed documentation of each test , who requested, who performed, along with the results.
Tab 4: EMERGENCY CONTACTS. Who should be contacted (family members or loved ones) in case of an emergency. You might also add a list of special care doctors and other resources as well as a Health Care Proxy.
If you have a chronic illness, Tab 5 might include your treatment progress, such as records of blood sugar or blood pressure readings. Remember, these are just suggestions for how your binder should be assembled.
You are now armed and ready to take control of your health and wellbeing!